To introduce myself briefly, I have worked in both academia and the ‘think tank’ community, in London and
in Washington D.C. My last formal institutional posts were as Professor of Middle East Policy Studies
(2012-18) and Director of the Olive Tree Scholarship Programme for
Palestinians and Israelis (2008-16) at City, University of London. Before that, I was Director of
Research (2005-08) and Head of the Middle East Programme (1995-2005) at Chatham
House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) in London. From 1990-95 I was Head of the Middle East Programme at RUSI (the Royal United Services
Institute for Defence Studies). I was awarded my PhD in Political Science in 1988 from
George Washington University in Washington, DC, where I also taught for
several years in the 1980s. I had previously gained an MA in War Studies (1975) and BA in
History (1974) from King’s College, University of London.
Surviving the Story explores the role of group or national narratives in driving conflicts, using the words and reflections of some Israeli and Palestinian university graduates as illustration. All of us derive our identities from the stories we tell ourselves (and our children) about who we are and who we are not; our triumphs and our tragedies, the heroes we honour and the villains we denounce. We find meaning and inspiration in these narratives, but they can also trap us into dualistic thinking about ‘self’ and ‘other’. When opportunist politicians exploit the enmities and fears enshrined in these narratives, to refuse to play their game invites censure or worse. Yet, as this book demonstrates, the very realisation of an option – to escape the narrative trap – is to approach freedom.
In this penetrating study, Rosemary Hollis weaves together with crystalline prose the sensibilities of a psychologist with those of the well-informed analyst of realpolitik. Using unique data from a university programme she directed for eight years, she shows us that getting to know our enemies leads to understanding but not to peace. …. Participants discover empowerment through reflection and learn to navigate their own paths through the conflict.
Tarak Barkawi, Professor of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science
Copyright 2020 Rosemary Hollis. All rights reserved.